Back in the “old days,” parents used to open the door and tell their young children to go outside and play. Consequently, the little ones would engage in a variety of activities amongst themselves with no adults around. In today’s world, it’s harder to leave kids so unsupervised.
However, there is a big difference between supervision and micro-management, and too much adult involvement in children’s activities can interfere with critically important developmental processes.
Let’s say the kids are playing a pick-up game of baseball. There is a close play at first base. The team in the field insists “He’s out!” The team at bat insists, “He’s safe!” There is no adult around to umpire, so what happens? If the kids want to keep having fun, they have to negotiate and work it out themselves. They flip a coin, do rock/paper/scissors, or concede that this one goes your way but the next one goes our way.
Or let’s say the kids are playing Monopoly inside on a rainy day. As good as the game is, it gets somewhat boring after a while. So the kids start making up their own rules, like you can build hotels on railroads, you get extra money for landing on Free Parking, etc. With no adult around to tell them they aren’t allowed to do that, excitement and enthusiasm return to the game.
The fact is that constant adult involvement often stifles the development of important social skills and the development of imaginative, innovate minds. And that is why Romp n’ Roll features a healthy dose of independent play in every class and also schedules generous amounts of Open Gym. It is recognized that the little ones must be supervised at all times but also that they be given opportunities to progress in ways they can only do on their own.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.